The Hierarchy of Excess: A Study in Materiality and Accommodation at the Ducie Street Arts Foundation
Working from the manifesto of: “”The everyday is to INFORM and INSPIRE. They who look to superfluous excess are IRRESPONSIBLE. We REJECT meaningless conceptions of profligacy.”” I ask the question: “”How do you categorise excess?”” Utilising Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a driver to classify required accommodation into levels from basic physical needs (toilets, services, breakout spaces) to ‘self-actualisation’ (creative workshops, art gallery, lecture theatre). This hierarchy is reflected in the vertical placement of each space within the massing as well as in its materiality, and structural ‘lightness’.
With the site including the currently dilapidated Ducie Street terrace, the masterplan is to renovate these for residential use. The end terrace site, that has recently been demolished and being in a prominent position on the corner of Granby Street, will be used to house the café and shop, setting the precedent for the commercial revival of Granby Street. A ‘jewel’ on the end of the terrace; it will be built as a condensed form of the architectural language and structural strategy formula used in the main centre opposite the original terrace.
The architectural language is a post-modern approach to the historic contextual architecture; particularly of the original Ducie Street terrace (partially demolished in 2009) and Prince’s Gate Baptist Church (demolished in 1974) that used to occupy a neighbouring site. Through critical analysis of historic images, geometric rhythms were discovered. These were combined to form iconic geometric patterns used on both the buildings and the urban realm, to distinctively characterise the site.
A 2.4×2.4m structural / planning grid was applied to unify the whole site under these geometric rules and served as an efficient way to organise the accommodation, with the open-air circulation placed to the North street-facing façade and accommodation placed to the South, to make use of solar gain and cross ventilation opportunities. A ‘Rubblecrete’ ground floor with thick 600x600mm columns that geometrically twins (though enlarged and inverted) the red brick cornicing lining the original terrace creates a compressive atmosphere; amplifying the juxtaposition between the lighter timber frame structural systems used on the highest levels of the composite structure.
I have taken the opportunity to fully pedestrianise the former road of Ducie Street to set a sustainable precedent for minimising the use of cars to residents and visitors of the arts foundation. Public access alleyways through the main building link the back to the front. This back-front relationship is explored through a ‘wild urban oasis’ peat/bog rear garden juxtaposing a formal landscaped front garden with monastic community vegetable raised beds and soundscape water features.”